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Deck13 Interactive's upcoming action-RPG Atlas Fallen will be going live on May 16, 2023. And if you're curious about this sand-shrouded project but still aren't quite sure what it actually wants to be or what to expect from it, you can now find several hands-on previews below shedding some light on what it is you will be doing while playing Atlas Fallen.
This seamless open world absolutely wants to be explored, though I didn't see too much of it beyond areas surrounding the first village, Castrum VII, which itself is loaded with quests to complete and NPCs to speak to - each with their own backstories and interesting dialogue. I also made a point of saving up and buying the first set of armor sold by the merchant in town, and it's cool that such a clear indicator of progress was laid out to me early on; giving me a reason to go out and do quests, hunt, and explore while saving up my currency toward a clear upgrade that actually paid off in combat.
The other interesting wrinkle is Momentum, which itself feels like an inversion of the stamina concept that dominates souls-style games. Momentum is gained by attacking – though some weapons are better at building Momentum than others. Special skills and buffs that you equip in Atlas Fallen’s RPG menus become available in combat at certain Momentum thresholds, represented by a blue bar that sits beneath your health bar. The most powerful moves will require you to have a high Momentum level before you can use them, thus rewarding strong literacy in the basic concepts of combat.
It’s largely about the scale of everything that feels different about Atlas Fallen. Dashing about the sands on the ground one moment, before scaling tall towers and leaping across large chasms the next. Actually, everything about Atlas Fallen seems to be built for fluidity, transitioning between exploration, combat and questing seamlessly and all at the behest of the player’s control. If this remains the case by the end of the final game, it could be the defining facet of the game that makes it into a winner.
More importantly, there is the Stoneskin shield mechanic in Atlas Fallen. Stoneskin is basically the player’s parry button for incoming attacks. A red flash indicates that a nearby foe is about to strike and the attack it’s performing is parryable. Simply tap the Stoneskin button when the red light flashes to not only block the attack, but crystalize that enemy as well. The crystallization freezes them for a few moments for the character to whale on them freely. Bigger enemies often need three to four Stoneskin counters before they become completely crystallized, though each successful Stoneskin has crystals visibly build up on their skin gradually, providing a cool visual effect on them.
There’s no gear in Atlas Fallen, just your armor that can be upgraded with resources that you find in the wild, and the gauntlet, which is also your main weapon. The gauntlet can be augmented with a bunch of abilities that you find by killing monsters and finding chests throughout the world. These abilities are very important because they can define the playstyle. Obviously, some abilities are more powerful than others, but finding the best synergies is also something worth considering.